Josh Saunders arriving for Real Salt Lake's preseason training surprised nearly everyone, and the response since has been understandably varied.
Saunders, of course, comes from LA Galaxy — that provokes some negative reactions — and isn't rated by some — provoking further reactions — and doesn't represent a true challenge to Nick Rimando's "throne," as it were. Those three concerns, among others, are particularly interesting.
Reaction from the Real Salt Lake staff has been largely positive, but indications he could sign have been few until recently. Yesterday, during an ESPN700 interview, Jason Kreis described the situation: Jeff Attinella, Kreis seems to think, just isn't ready. Bringing in a proven veteran — even if he's not to the level of, say, Nick Rimando — could be beneficial.
"Originally, we brought in Jeff Attinella and felt like he was going to be somebody we could rely on," Kreis said during the radio interview. "We knew he didn't have any MLS experience, but he had two full of seasons of second-division soccer under his belt and had done pretty well there. Going through it, we've become a little bit nervous ... if you add both of those things up, the nervousness and opportunity to look at a player like Josh Saunders ... It is something that we're considering.
With that concern understood, let's look at what a Josh Saunders signing would mean for Real Salt Lake.
It's difficult to expect that Saunders would be on anything more in salary than he was in 2012, when he was at $75,000 or so. Worries that he'll eat up the cap are unnecessary, given that Garth Lagerwey has shown a remarkable knack for dealing with salaries — and everything else, for that matter.
Saunders wouldn't be blocking another player from coming into the club. Lagerwey has said several times now that we could be looking at a more full roster than we've seen in some time, and this would seem to be part of that. (Really, don't worry — Saunders won't stop a forward from coming into the club. Further, Lagerwey recently spoke to Keepin' it Realand spoke of squad size.)
The big impact would be a player that has shown great ability in goal, and despite some issues last season, was part of a title-winning side. This can't be overlooked. Sure, they leaked goals early on, but their defense was hit hard by the absence of one Omar Gonzalez.
Would Josh Saunders improve this team? Yes. Would he hurt this team? It's hard to imagine so. Does he strike a controversial figure? Sure, but let's just remember a certain dreadlocked midfielder who went on to become Real Salt Lake's captain.